Our safari started with the last bitter cold nip of winter in what has otherwise been a fairly mild winter in Botswana. Abnormally cold weather in South Africa produced snow in all nine provinces for the first time in recorded history and we felt the frosty bite of that weather on the first few days of our safari. Thankfully it didn’t last too long and the mid-day temperatures were always above 25C so there was plenty of time to thaw out after the chilly evenings.
One of the early highlights of our Botswana safari was watching a pair of giraffe mating on the Xini floodplains (pronounced kee-nee) of the Moremi Game Reserve. We watched the giraffe mating for quite a while but the cherry on this particular cake was a cheetah who popped in for a visit and broke up the date for a while. The cheetah and giraffe gazed at each other for a while before going their separate ways.
We were also very fortunate to discover a wild dog den in the Khwai region just north of the Moremi Game Reserve and we watched the pack return to the den to feed the alpha female and her young cubs. The wild dogs have been very active in the Mogotlho region north of the Khwai river and it was fantastic to finally pin down their den and witness some of the domestic activity of the pack.
We had quite a number of unusual sightings on our safari – the most unusual of these were in Savuti with four flamingos seen on the Savuti marsh which is a first for me after all my years guiding in Botswana. In addition to this we saw two eland, the world’s largest antelope species, I haven’t seen eland in Savuti for many years and it was great to see them making a return. Eland are common in the Tuli Block, an area just north of the Limpopo River on Botswana’s southern border with South Africa and Zimbabwe but up here in the northern parts they are never common.
On a sadder note we came across the old male leopard, known to us as madala wa matsibi (the old man of the fever berries), looking very skinny and stiff-legged. We found him feeding on a catfish carcass along the Khwai River, a sad step down for this once majestic male. We saw a total of five leopards on this safari and thankfully all the others were in great condition and the Twin Hills female in Savuti has two beautiful little cubs.
Of course we can’t forget that this is Lion Month at Letaka Safaris so I couldn’t come back without some tales of lions and although we didn’t see a lot of lions in action we did get to catch up with a few of them doing what cats do best – relaxing. This male, one of the Khwai gang, managed to raise his head up long enough to pose for this image before collapsing into that familiar flat-out feline pose.
Mobile tented safaris are such a wonderful way of seeing this beautiful country of ours and this was just another example of why that is. We had an incredible eight days encompassing Moremi Game Reserve, Khwai Concession and Savuti in Chobe National Park. Our safari was put together by Nick Hobbs from Expert Africa (www.expertafrica.com)
Look out for my next blog which will feature images captured with my new Canon 100-400mm image stabilising lens which I can’t wait to take out on safari, until then you can keep updated on the Letaka Facebook page
😎 Nkosi Sibanda – August 2012